April 9, 2009
NEW YORK — Mark O’Connor, the world-renowned fiddler, composer, and promoter of American musical traditions, has developed a new fiddle methodology that music educators are hailing as the first legitimate American alternative to the popular Suzuki method of violin instruction.
O’Connor’s approach, which is geared toward young players, offers an alluring blend of folk, jazz, country, classical, and even rock and roll instruction without the mandatory ten-year period of suffering and oppression associated with existing all-classical violin methods.
But in some parts of the country, parents have expressed concern about one element of O’Connor’s teaching regimen. Before pupils even pick up a violin, they must memorize a brief Pledge of Allegiance, written by O’Connor, and this pledge is to be recited every morning before fiddle practicing begins.
According to advocates of the O’Connor method, the Pledge promotes discipline, loyalty, pride, and devotion to the national musical heritage of America, all of which are very important to becoming a focused and successful fiddler.
“It’s really just the ‘under Mark O’Connor’ phrase that I object to,” said concerned parent Jennie Fox, whose four-year-old son will soon start learning the fiddle.
“I object to the whole thing,” said Will Fox, husband of Jennie.
Throughout O’Connor’s career, he has relished the praise of critics and musicians as countless numbers of them have lauded his exceptional talent and undeniable superiority to all other fiddlers, living and dead.
O’Connor came of age playing in Texas-style fiddle contests, where for years he remorselessly humiliated grown men and their families on a semi-professional basis.
In the real world, he quickly built his reputation and career by systematically vanquishing his fiddle heroes, turning them into his defeated minions.
“Have you ever listened to Mark’s album Heroes? It’s like watching somebody box fifteen dudes in a row without losing a round,” said young fiddler G. Witcher.
“It makes you thirsty for blood,” he noted.
Year after year, in a powerful assertion of ultimate supremacy, O’Connor subjugated the world’s most influential fiddlers, forcing them into internment in a fiddle camp.
There, he worked them slavishly.
“Then at night in the jams, with everyone there watching, he’d show us no mercy,” said fiddler and music educator Matt Glaser.
By 1994, O’Connor had moved on to become a celebrated orchestral composer and soloist, thriving in the wide open territory of Americana-themed classical music.
“Since there’s nobody else really doing that kind of thing, Mark can get the adulation he deserves, but it doesn’t have to come at anyone’s expense,” said Matt Glaser.
“He still runs the fiddle camps, though,” added Glaser.
Despite the controversy surrounding the wording of O’Connor’s Pledge of Allegiance, many fiddlers and teachers are taking it in stride.
“If you’re going be a fiddler, chances are you’ll have to kneel before O’Connor at some point. Might as well get used to it early,” said Witcher.
Rio de Janeiro will serve as home of first annual Miss Mandoverse
OAKLAND — According to a press release issued today in twelve different languages, mandolin icon and international playboy Mike Marshall will present and host the first annual Miss Mandoverse Contest this April in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The announcement, which has already created considerable publicity within the acoustic world, also carries wide-ranging implications for global beauty pageantry.
Marshall’s innovative contest, which will be televised worldwide and stream live on the internet, features standard swimsuit and evening gown events as well as special competitions based on mandolin ability and cooking.
The interview portion of the contest, a staple of most beauty pageants, will be replaced by an unprecedented second swimsuit competition.
Mandatory minimum levels established for most major drugs
BOSTON — At the behest of its students and faculty, the prestigious Berklee College of Music has instituted a strict, cutting-edge substance abuse detection program aimed at maximizing the musical education of its over 4,000 students.
The school, which prides itself on the promise of a rigorous and pragmatic education, hopes that drug testing will drive elevated student performance and better prepare each pupil for post-Berklee life in the music business.
“This all but guarantees a true and bona fide Berklee experience for every single student at the school,” said a spokesman for President Roger H. Brown.
According to the new regimen, every student will be tested on a monthly basis by urinalysis and blood sampling, with screening for the presence of at least thirteen drugs including marijuana, alcohol, LSD, psilocybin, nitrous oxide, cocaine, oxycontin, ecstasy, nicotine, and ketamine, a horse tranquilizer.
For each drug, the college has adopted a scientifically determined minimum level of intoxication, below which no student should drop for any reason over the course of the semester.
A failing test result will subject each un-intoxicated student to a detailed penal hierarchy ranging from detention to permanent expulsion, depending on the severity of the infraction.
“Decisions of the drug testing board are final, although an amendment to the student bill of rights provides for an optional appeal in front of the review board, which by regulation consists of three faculty, three students, and one outside member,” said a representative from the student council.
Although policy changes made now do not take effect until the beginning of the next academic year, the announcement of future drug testing is already motivating students towards new levels of achievement.
“When I heard about all the drug testing I was like, damn, that’s hella strict. Am I going to be able to keep up? I guess we all just have to do our best for the sake of the education,” said one student, who goes by the name “Stash.”
BAGHDAD — Stunningly, a recent United States military action has succeeded in bringing lasting peace, harmony, and American domination to the war-torn Middle East.
Military officials are attributing the success of this plan to its incorporation of the Stelling Crusader banjo, whose luscious tone, beautiful Christian ornamentation, and indomitable power apparently humbled the inhabitants of the region, starting a chain reaction of peace and American-style democracy.
“Basically, we sent a task force of highly-trained players over there with Crusader banjos, and had them just wail until the situation was resolved,” said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. “It was kind of a Hail Mary, but what can I say? It worked.”
A secret presidential directive authorized the plan, thereby exempting it from Congressional oversight and bypassing the controversy that has often surrounded the Bush Administration’s more radical policies.
Now, the startling success of “Operation Infinite Justice Redux” has all but silenced critics of the United States’ overseas military agenda, also increasing international awareness of the banjo to unprecedented levels.
Within days of the plan’s initiation, reports of massive religious conversions began to flood Middle Eastern news outposts, beginning in Iraq and quickly spreading to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Israel.
Soon, these waves of religious conversion had spread as far as Pakistan and western Afghanistan and began to be accompanied by eyewitness reports describing spontaneous grassroots democratic organization.
In several countries, ethnic groups whose relations had been strained for hundreds, even thousands of years suddenly came together, often in town-hall style meetings, peacefully resolving their differences by democratic voting and praising the United States.
“You’ve probably heard a lot about the whole Sunni and Shiite thing over here in Iraq,” said one Reuters news correspondent. “Well, imagine thousands upon thousands of these people, listening to the glorious sound of the Crusader banjo and singing — literally singing — the United States Pledge of Allegiance.”
“Our work here is done,” said General David Petraeus, chief of US Central Command in Iraq.